The old adage, “if it bleeds, it leads” sure holds true for local late night television news. On Blue Oregon, Kari Chishom lamented a KOIN (channel 6) focus on crime, fear, misery, and death.
Following in Kari’s eyeballs, I analyzed last night’s 11 o’clock news on KATU (channel 2) and found that those thirty-two minutes also were remarkably devoid of substantive stories.
Here’s how the program panned out (times are somewhat rough as they were estimated by using my digital video recorder’s 30-second forward and 10-second back buttons):
Total 32:00 (thirty two minutes: zero seconds)
Ads and ”still to come” mentions 9:00
Serious news 2:00
I watch KATU’s 11 o’clock news every night. Almost always I record the program and start watching it about twenty minutes in. That’s so I can fast forward through all the stories that are utterly uninteresting to me.
Which means I usually end up seeing about ten minutes out of the thirty-two. Weather, sports, and stories that have some relevance or interest to me—watchable. Murders, car crashes, fires, and the like—skipable.
Last night there was only one story about an important social issue with significant local and national impacts: FreightLiner’s announcement that 800 workers were being laid off in Portland, with many of those jobs going to Mexico. Two serious news minutes out of thirty-two.
Recently my wife and I have been interviewed a couple of times by KATU news’ Salem team. They did an excellent job digging into how a proposed Measure 37 subdivision threatens the groundwater in our area of the south Salem hills. But Melica Johnson’s stories were shown on KATU’s late afternoon news, not at 11 o’clock.
I asked her why the late night news was so filled with crime and fluff. She was sympathetic to my desire for more “real” news and suggested that I contact the powers-that-be at KATU.
Good idea. But it’s going to take hearing from more than one disgruntled viewer to make a difference. Contact the station management at KATU yourself. Tell them they need to start focusing more on issues of broader social significance than car crashes and apartment fires.
Not just because this is the right thing to do. Because viewers like me are fast-forwarding through most of the news (or not watching entirely). I’m a news junkie. I read two daily newspapers. Plus the three major news magazines each week. And watch cable news several times a day, along with perusing quite a few Internet news sources.
But local television news makes me yawn. When there’s hardly any news on the news, there isn’t much reason to watch. Here’s what I mean—a summary of KATU’s 11 o’clock news on Friday, January 26, 2007.
What’s going to be on the news tonight: (0:30)
Massive manhunt for two men who tried to commit murder (2:00)
Benson High student tells other kids he was feeling suicidal and had a gun (0:30)
Alcohol may have been involved in head-on crash that critically injured a man (0:30)
FreightLiner announces 2000 layoffs nationally, 800 in Portland (2:00)
Medical examiner trying to identify body found at I-5 rest stop (0:30)
Coast Guard rescues four men on boat that got into trouble on Tillamook Bay bar (1:30)
Firefighters evacuate nursing home after fire breaks out in attic (1:00)
Johnny Brown wanted for shooting two people in leg (0:30)
Thieves are looking for cars warming up in driveways (0:30)
Fugitive hijacks country singer’s (Crystal Gayle) luxury tour bus in Nashville (0:30)
Girl Scout going door to door in Missouri threatened with shotgun (0:30)
Bailiffs in Florida courtroom forced to wrestle man to the ground (0:30)
Still to come and commercials (2:30)
Women’s roller derby back in style in Portland and elsewhere (3:00)
Weather with Rod Hill (3:30)
Seattle house moved via a barge on Lake Washington (0:30)
Still to come and commercials (3:00)
Leonardo DeCaprio storms out of photo shoot in Spain after press boos him (0:30)
Delta Airlines makes editing error on “The Queen” movie (0:30)
Sports with Ron Carlson (3:00)
Still to come and commercials (2:30)
Eight co-workers from Beaverton share $200,000 PowerBall jackpot (0:30)
Jocularity and sign off (0:30)
I should mention that this was the second time in two weeks that bailiffs in Florida had to wrestle a man to the ground. Guess that justifies thirty seconds on the Portland, Oregon news.
That was one of three stories on KATU’s “News Across America” segment. The others were the Nashville hijacking of Crystal Gayle’s luxury tour bus and the Girl Scout in Missouri threatened with a shotgun when she knocked on a door.
Could there be any more important news across America? Apparently not, according to KATU. Please, write station management and set them straight.